Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Small press reviews

In 2010 this blog will mainly be focusing on its original intention: spotlighting classic British comics of the past, covering old titles before they fade into forgotten history. However at present I want to give a little space to some long-overdue reviews of a few current small press comics I received this year.

Kicking off with Sgt. Mike Battle, this brilliant spoof of gung-ho heroics is always worth picking up. Created by Graham Pearce, Mike Battle is a witty mickey-take of gun-toting heroes who take themselves too seriously and of American comics in general.

Don't let the covers deceive you, smartly satirical as they are this isn't only a parody of Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., as the comedy casts its net wider than that. These 36 page A5 comics are packed with comedy-action and include some genuinely laugh-out loud moments. Real value for money.

Graham tells me he grew up reading Combat Colin and that was an influence on Sgt. Mike Battle. In which case I'm proud to have inspired such a great comic. Copies can be ordered via the website here:

Khaki Shorts is a comic that has now clocked up a respectable 22 issues due to it's bi-monthly frequency. With its bright yellow covers and A5 format it reminds me of the sort of stripzines that would be available in the 1970s, - and that's not a bad thing. Khaki Shorts is a mixed bag. Its anthology content contains strips of various lengths, most of which are surreal and trippy. It's an acquired taste but definitely worth trying. The shift between broad comedy and phantasmagorical material pulls the mind in various directions, which isn't a quality that most comics from the mainstream can boast today.

I particularly enjoyed A.J. Smith's Boy Mindless in issue 22, and it's great to see Jon Miller's work still has its unique electric look. Issue 21 featured a four page tribute to Electric Soup comic including a new page from Frank Quitley. At 24 pages for only a pound (plus 50p p&p) Khaki Shorts is a bargain. Mature readers only. Buy it online here:

The Adventures of Kez & Luke is a neat little 48 page mini comic from Luke Paton, the sub-editor of Toxic. I don't usually care much for "slice of life" comics as I find many of them so damned downbeat, but this one has a really nice feelgood feel to it throughout. It's the story of the everyday trivialities of a relationship, and I presume it's all inspired by Luke's own life. As you can see from the cover, the artwork is very basic, - just stick figures, but the dialogue is spot on and the timing of the gags is just right. Most of the strips are short three or four panel gags, although some run to a few more pages.

This comic is actually a collection of the webstrip which is updated every weekday over at where you can buy copies of this collection plus Kez and Luke cards and badges.

John Short is a professional comics writer who has worked for various publishers and his self-published Short Comic features a collection of all new characters. With artwork from fellow pros Alex Paterson and Paul Palmer this 12 page A5 anthology is slick and funny. Check out John's website over at to see more of his work where you can order copies of Octobriana and Armageddon Patrol and see preview pages from John's other projects including the excellent Cross.

Reviews of other small press / independent comics will appear on this blog before the end of the year.

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